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Craig Williams believes a favourable barrier draw for Southern Speed gives him the chance to wipe away past Caulfield Cup disappointments in Saturday’s $2.5 million event.

Williams said the world’s richest 2400m handicap had left “a bad taste in my mouth” when he finished a very unlucky fifth on Leica Falcon in 2005.

Williams, who had his best result in the race when third aboard Monaco Consul last year, said Southern Speed drawing barrier four was a “really big advantage” for his mount.

“There is always early speed on in a Caulfield Cup and it’s important to get into a good position going down to the first turn,” the four-time Scobie Breasley Medal and Melbourne jockeys’ premiership winner said.

“I think from barrier four I’m really lucky. I can try and use her as much I want and I can come back when I have to.

“I don’t have to give or take anything away from the draw. Barrier four for my horse is a really big advantage.

“It’s quite a unique race probably because of the outlay of the track and the way the race is run.

“They sprint down to the first turn and you hope your horse relaxes and has enough power and be balanced enough around the tight home turn at Caulfield to sustain the 2400 metres.

“It’s a thrilling race and not always that clear-cut. This year it is an intriguing race.

“Bar December Draw it’s really open and three-quarters of the field have a great chance in the race.”

Four-year-old mare Southern Speed, prepared jointly by Leon Macdonald and Andrew Gluyas, is the lightest-weighted horse in the race with 52.5kg and is quoted at $15 after solid lead-up form.

Like the $2.45 favourite December Draw, the daughter of Southern Image is facing her first test at 2400m.

Placed third in the Group One Australasian Oaks (2008m) at Morphettville at the end of her autumn preparation, Southern Speed improved sharply third-up with a fourth to King’s Rose in the Group Two Stocks Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley.
She followed that performance up with a top effort for second to Lion Tamer in the Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield when left in front too soon and then ran fourth to December Draw in the Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington, both at Group One level.

Williams, who rode Southern Speed in the Turnbull, said the mare’s effort indicated she was looking for the 2400m trip.

The leading jockey has had a long association with Macdonald having won two Group Three races aboard Will Fly as an apprentice, the 1997 Hardy Brothers Prelude at Flemington and Tristarc Stakes on Caulfield Cup day.

He later rode Gold Guru and Umrum in feature races for the stable.

Williams said he considered himself fortunate to be riding Southern Speed.

“I’m feeling really confident going into Saturday’s race with Southern Speed,” he said.


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